What it means: Avoiding what could've easily been a trap game with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on the horizon, the Rangers topped the Hurricanes 4-2 to complete a series sweep against Carolina. The Eastern Conference-leading Blueshirts received a tremendous performance from their top line of Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, all of whom finished with three points apiece in boosting the team to its second straight win of a seven-game homestand at Madison Square Garden.
Another pair for Richards: After beating Cam Ward high-glove at 10:12 in the second, Brad Richards ripped another past him from the slot to record his second straight multi-goal game. Richards also tallied twice in an 4-3 overtime win against the Islanders on Sunday. He now has five goals in the last three games, as well as a four-game point streak.
High marks for Hagelin: Hagelin picked up primary assists on both of Richards' second-period markers, then tallied one of his own in the third for a much-needed insurance goal. His wraparound score gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead with seven minutes in regulation.
Quick comeback: Trailing 3-0 in the second period, Carolina rallied with two goals within 32 seconds of each other. After second-year center Jeff Skinner scored on a scramble in front at 14:44, Drayson Bowman pulled the Hurricanes within a goal at 15:12.
Leading the pack: Tallying the Rangers' first goal of the game, and his 34th of the season, Marian Gaborik recorded his ninth point in the last eight games. Gaborik, who leads the team in goals and assists, buried Dan Girardi's rebound that caromed off the end boards for a 1-0 Rangers lead at 3:02 of the first period.
Last-minute start: Although slated to back up Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron received the starting nod with Lundqvist battling the flu. Biron received some help early in the first when Ruslan Fedotenko made one of the best saves of the game, stopping Jussi Jokinen in front after Biron turned the puck over and scrambled to get back in position.
Second chance for Sanguinetti: Former first-round draft pick defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti played his first NHL game in more than two years against his former team. The 24-year-old Trenton, N.J., native, selected by New York 21st overall in 2006, was called up Monday by Carolina. He played five games for the Rangers in 2009-10 before he was traded to Carolina in exchange for two picks.